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Sanders, Ocasio-Cortez introduce 'Green New Deal for Public Housing'

The sweeping new legislation promises to strengthen public housing communities, improve living conditions for residents, and create jobs.

WASHINGTON — Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) on Monday introduced the "Green New Deal for Public Housing," new legislation that promises to strengthen public housing communities, improve living conditions for residents, and create thousands of jobs.

In a statement, the lawmakers said the legislation would address the housing and climate crises through the "retrofitting, rehabilitating, and decarbonizing of the nation’s entire public housing stock."

The legislation would invest up to $172 billion in over 10 years in grant programs to improve living conditions for nearly 2 million people living in over 950,000 public housing homes. If passed, the bill would reduce some water bills by up to 30% a year, reduce public housing energy bills by up to 70% per year, and create up to 240,000 jobs all while reducing annual carbon emissions by roughly 5.6 million metric tons.

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Sen. Sanders said in a statement that the country must "boldly" move forward to address the systemic and existential threats, including combating climate change and making sure everyone has a "safe and decent place to live." 

"It is unacceptable that our nation’s public housing is in a state of chronic disrepair and energy inefficiency after generations of government neglect," Sanders said in a statement. "This legislation addresses our climate and affordable housing crises together in a way that transforms our energy system, rebuilds public housing, and creates hundreds of thousands of good paying jobs in low-income and working class communities.”

Credit: AP
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., right, laughs with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-NY, at a campaign event Sunday, Jan. 26, 2020, in Storm Lake, Iowa. (AP Photo/John Locher)

Rep. Ocasio-Cortez said in a statement that the legislation was essential and builds on President Joe Biden's recent push for improving America's infrastructure. She said Biden deserves “a lot of credit” for his infrastructure plan's vision and scope, but said it falls far short of what is needed to meaningfully combat the climate crisis. 

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“The Green New Deal for Public Housing would increase affordable housing, reduce the cost of utility bills and eliminate environmental hazards like lead poisoning – all while creating nearly a quarter of a million good paying jobs,” said Rep. Ocasio-Cortez. “With America facing an affordable housing crisis and the perils of climate change, we must invest in our housing infrastructure now. We also must be honest about the scale of the problem."

The summary of the legislation claims that "no matter the circumstances you were born into, this bill ensures that everyone has a shot at economic and social empowerment."

Cosponsors for the bill include Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), and Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.).

The Associated Press contributed to this report.